Olive tree groves and pastures that stretch from the slopes of Silano Plateu until it reaches the sea, right in the middle of the province of Crotone: this is the land of Maiorano farm, a company run by Maiorano family for over a hundred years, handing down from father to son the secrets of breeding sheeps.
Farmers for five generations, Maiorano family is famous for its production of Pecorino Canestrato Crotonese, a cheese made according to a tradition that dates back to the fifteenth century, using a milk with a unique flavor, thanks to the wide variety of vegetation of the pastures.
“The business was started by my grandfather's grandfather, who was breeder in the Sila area. In the thirties the family moved into the Marchesato di Crotone but only in the 80's the production of cheese from sheep's and cow's milk became our core business”, told us Raffaele Maiorano. Raffaele is a businessman in his early thirties who joined his father Alfonso in the management of the company. He graduated in Economics and Corporate Finance and he is the president of the Young Farmers Association of Confagricoltura. In his father's farm Raffaele is the marketing manager of Pecorino Crotonese but he also pushed to start a biological production of olive oil that is having excellent results.
We interviewed him to better know this fascinating company with centuries-old tradition.
Raffaele, what is the secret of your long tradition?
Maiorano Farm is well-recognised both for the quality of its products and for the ability of innovate both our management and our image. We pay a lot of attention to the respect of the environment. For this reason we have launched several organinc productions.
What is the size of your farm today?
Currently we employ 25 persons to handle over 1,200 hectares of land, including pastures, olive and orange groves. We breed around 1800 sheeps, plus some cattles of Podolica and Simmental breed. Our sheeps are raised in semi-wild conditions in the pastures of Marchesato di Crotone. From their milk we produce mainly Pecorino Crotonese but also a smoked ricotta. The smoking process is pretty unique since we burn the wood that we get from the pruning of our organic olive and orange groves.
Pecorino is produced all over the year?
No, in summer the production stops because it's too hot and we won't obtain high quality cheeses. Moreover we respect the lactation cycle of our sheeps, that naturally stop the production of milk from late July to early October. In October usually they give birth and then start to wean the lambs. They start back to give us milk for our cheeses only from the beginning of November.
Are you waiting for the DOP certification to Pecorino Crotonese?
Actually we have already achieved it. There are fifteen companies which produce Pecorino Crotonese in this area and we are waiting for the foundation of the consortium. Without a PDO protecting it, Pecorino Crotonese is produced also abroad, in Bulgaria and Romania. The production area and the origin of the milk are essential to guarantee its uniqueness. Raffaele jokes: "We are thinking to call our product just Pecorino Maiorano: at the moment it is the best way to guarantee its quality."